1996

PERICLES Anthology

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0921.  Friday, 6 December 1996.

From:           David Skeele <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 14:55:15 -0500
Subject:        Re: PERICLES Anthology

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

I have recently been made volume editor of Garland Press' anthology of essays
on PERICLES, and I am now seeking contributions.  Essays may be literary
criticism or articles on PERICLES in production.  If you are submitting a piece
of literary criticism, however, please know that because they will be appearing
alongside "classic" pieces of criticism from the 17th Century to the present,
these new critical essays should probably be based in current methodologies
(for example, a purely formalist analysis of the play may still be worthwhile
and interesting, but such an approach will already have been covered by, say,
Northrop Frye and a number of "myth-critics").   Because performance analysis
of Shakespeare's plays is ground less well-trod, and because the mere fact of
reporting on new and different performances automatically creates variety, I
will not insist on the same from those writing on performance. In all cases, I
will be extending a preference to those essays which do not rely inordinately
on jargon (I do believe it is possible to write good post-structuralist
criticism without burying the reader in a fog bank of quasi-scientific
terminology).  In terms of performance-based essays, I am particularly
interested in accounts and analyses of German PERICLES'.

If you are interested in submitting a paper, please send a description or
proposal to me by E-mail, and I will contact you.  If the description/ proposal
is appropriate for the anthology, and does not repeat material already
accepted, I will ask for a hard copy.  Please send these initial postings
before February 15 (I will probably set May 1 as the deadline for the hard
copy). Many thanks for your interest, and I look forward to hearing from you.

                                                        David Skeele
                                                        Slippery Rock University

Re: Politics

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0920.  Friday, 6 December 1996.

(1)     From:   Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 13:43:02 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0915 Re: Politics

(2)     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 05 Dec 1996 12:08:37 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0915  Re: Politics

(3)     From:   Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 15:50:18 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Is the Bard Bourgeois?


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 13:43:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0915 Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0915 Re: Politics

Belinda Johnston is obviously wearied by the "tired essentialisms" of Andy
Walker-Whyte and other non-Marxists.  Many of us on-line are as tired of the
tired relativisms of Marxists and cultural materialists unlimited, which her
post then goes on to express.  Do you see how easy it is to turn your
non-thought against you?

I think this impasse can be solved if instead of remaining tired we all wake
up--and engage in honest discussion, where adjectives like "tired" are avoided
because recognized for what they are--cheap tactics to avoid debate, reflecting
the essential snobbery of those who use them.

Paul Hawkins

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 05 Dec 1996 12:08:37 -0800
Subject: 7.0915  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0915  Re: Politics

Hi, Belinda.

>I see I have been accused by Jane Thompson of flippancy and non-argument.
>Indeed, Thompson implies that the non-arguments proferred by 'we Marxists' is
>the reason for the lapses into the hate speech exemplified by Walker-White's "I
>despise Marxists".  Show me an argument for 'human spirit' and 'creativity'
>that doesn't resort to tired essentialisms and I'll accept the charge of
>'non-argument'.

Your answer demonstrates the closeness between "arguments" [sic] for either the
existence or the non-existence of the human soul.  Neither can be defended by
reference to an agreed standard.  It's like a Catholic and a behaviouralist
arguing about morals:  they'll never even agree on what to argue *about*.  If
Walker-White's are non-arguments, then so are yours:  both simply state dogma.

>Few of the Marxists I know would say the human subject is
>'spiritless'- rather they would suggest that our very notions of spirit,
>creativity, and artistic value are variable, culturally-bound and produced out
>of a series of material relations.  Therefore, we must be careful how we deploy
>those terms.

Of course.  Likewise, however, one can certainly conceive a philosophical
position in which material relations are products of spirit.  Perhaps you
should be careful how you deploy terms derived from economics.  The totalizing
primacy of "material relations" is as much a dogma as the belief in a human
soul.

>It is precisely this language that I object to in Walker-White-s
>argument and my flippantly insulting response was intended simply to point out
>that the notion of a sovereign individual subject (employed in Walker-White's
>latest posting in his reduction of capitalism and marxism to individual
>'motive') is a notion in need of interrogation, and worthy of suspicion.

So is the ontological naivety of your materialism.

Cheers,
Sean.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 15:50:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Is the Bard Bourgeois?

Ms. Johnston, convinced that my motives are still of the ulterior kind,
continues to dismiss my observations about the performing arts.  Yet, while she
says Marxists believe in the human spirit, she insists on using terminology
like "human subject" and, with regard to me, "sovereign individual subject".
This may be impretinent, but might I remind her that we are, after all, talking
about human beings?

As useful as a discussion of contexts for our beliefs may be, when we
automatically attribute elitism to artists, and when we automatically assume
that all Shakespeare productions outside the city limits are patronizing, we
are forgetting something; namely, that most, if not all such productions, are
not patronizing at all.  They are selected for production by people in the
community who want to put on a good show, who want to entertain their
neighbors.  The last thing they need is theorists who, ignorant of their
personal backgrounds and intentions, judge them harshly for even thinking of
putting on Shakespeare -- who, ideological considerations aside, is still a
pretty darned good draw.

Perhaps Ms. Johnston could answer this for me; when a leftist thinker on this
list stated -- as a categorical fact -- that performing artists are elitists, I
took it to mean that he was saying he despised us.  This list, so far as I
know, is open to performing artists as well as academics.  Since he knew he was
addressing us directly, I took his comment as a direct insult, and responded in
kind.

While I regret my strong language, I am still wondering what, if any, is the
qualitative difference between his remarks and mine?

Andy White
Urbana, IL

Q: Hales/Petit Case

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0918.  Thursday, 5 December 1996.

From:           Bernice W. Kliman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Dec 1996 22:38:19 -0500
Subject:        Hales/Petit Case

A friend who is not on e-mail knows he saw among the many journals he receives
a long essay about the Hales/Petit case and its relation to the gravediggers'
discussion of Ophelia's suicide.  Now he cannot locate it. If anyone saw that
essay and knows where to locate it, would they write to me privately? Many
thanks,

Bernice

Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0919.  Friday, 6 December 1996.

(1)     From:   Frank Whigham <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 08:38:03 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0916  Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

(2)     From:   Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 14:32:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0916 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 08:38:03 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 7.0916  Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0916  Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

On deemphasizing Antonio's sexuality:

The production cut Antonio's final two lines in 2.1: "But come what may, I do
adore thee so, / That danger shall seem sport, and I will go." These always
seem to me the first unmistakable evidence of his erotic affection for
Sebastian, and I certainly experienced this cut as an explicit muting or
silencing, though other positive aspects of the production remain clear enough
(the handling of his exit, for instance). Why, though, disguise him with a
dog-collar and granny glasses in the arrest scene? This too seemed like a
desexualizing to me. Indeed, it always seems to me that Antonio is incapable of
disguise, sexually polymorphous (or heterodox, anyway) but (otherwise?) seen
instantly for who he is, whereas others' desires are generally veneered in some
way.

Did anyone see any sign that Olivia's desire for Cesario had any homoerotic
content, as is often thought?

Frank Whigham

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 14:32:15 -0500
Subject: 7.0916 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0916 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

I've not yet seen the film, but look forward to it--TN is one of my favorite
scripts.

The comments about the Toby et al. being "too rough" on poor Malvolio takes me
back to the decisions we made in our production many years ago.  I had sat
through three gloomy, autumnal productions (one in Stratford) and was
determined to reclaim the comedy of the piece.

One of the decisions we made was that Malvolio deserved what he got.  He was
everything others here have said he is, and beyond that he was *simply
unsuitable* for Olivia.  I think I have mentioned before how the young actor
playing him carried an executive clipboard with him and wrote down all of
Olivia's many commands, and then he'd read them back when he needed them.  The
ring scene was a prime example of his prissy obsessiveness; he kept referring
to his notes and quoting Olivia's "exact words."  We said at the time that
Malvolio was the perfect assistant principal.

Olivia herself defines Malvolio for us when she says he's just too un-fun for
his own good.  She tells him in their first scene to lighten up, but he
doesn't.  In fact, he never does, and that's why he's deserving of punishment.
At the end, in our production, when he was reduced to helpless fury by the
whirligig of time, he spat out his threat of revenge and was greeted by a gale
of laughter from the cast--and from the audience.

The alternative, granting Malvolio "personal dignity," means allowing his "kind
of Puritanism" to gain a toehold in our existence.  We preferred to tell him to
"sneck up."  Yes, Toby and Maria knew they had gone too far, but it wasn't out
of pity for Malvolio--it was out of concern for their standing with Olivia.
Quash him and his kind, and quash them thoroughly.

I know it is incredibly unfashionable to minimize the melancholy of this play,
but you can take it from me that it can't be eradicated, even in our sunniest
of productions.  On the other hand, overemphasizing the pathos/bathos of
Malvolio, Andrew, Toby, and Antonio, seriously tampers with the very very funny
nature of the play.  It's perverse, almost as bad as making Pyramus and Thisbe
a serious attempt at poor-man's theatre.

Anyway, that's our take on the comedies here in Newnan--make 'em laugh.  If you
want to bother them, do Timon or Titus.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
http://shenandoah.peachnet.edu/~dlyles/nctc/nctc.html

Antonia Fraser or Mel Gussow

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0917.  Thursday, 5 December 1996.

From:           John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 4 Dec 1996 21:36:58 +0200
Subject:        Antonia Fraser or Mel Gussow

There is a startling sentence in Mel Gussow's account of an interview with Lady
Antonia Fraser about her recently published *Faith and Treason: The Story of
the Gunpowder Plot*.  The sentence appears in a parag. on p. B2, cont. from B1
of "The Living Arts" section of the *NYT* for Wed. Dec. 4, '96.

. . . . .

     "There are frequent references to Shakespeare, who was contemporaneous
with James I.  Lady Antonia said that in writing 'Macbeth.' with its theme of
regicide, Shakespeare was influenced by the Gunpowder Plot.  'Hamlet' and 'King
Lear' came later, and therefore were Jacobean rather than Elizabethan plays.
Because Ben Jonson and others were writing at the time, she said, the period
was artistically a 'kind of cusp.'"
     . . . . .

The fact is that *Macbeth* came last of the three plays mentioned, not first,
as most undergraduate students of  Shakespeare know.  And *Hamlet* is an
Elizabethan play.  The sentence as phrased makes it seem that *Macbeth* is both
an Elizabethan play and antecedent to a Jacobean event, the Gunpowder Plot. If
one assumes that "later" is an editing error for "earlier", one is even worse
off, because that would make the Jacobean plays earlier than the Tudor plays,
and besides *Lear* 1605 is clearly a Jacobean play however you play the
sentence.  So it wouldn't do to edit "later" to "earlier" and "Jacobean" to
"Elizabethan."    It is all a muddle, as they say in London.  The question is
whether this is Lady Antonia's garbling or Gussow's?  He ought to know better,
as he has been writing theater and culture columns for *The New York Times* for
a long time.  I find it hard to believe that Lady Antonia could be this
confused about the chronology of the Shakspeare canon.

The misinformation running around about Shakespeare in the popular press and in
pop history is appalling.  *The Times* and/or Lady Antonia should do better
than this!

In sorrow,
John Velz

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.